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Kirk Cousins: Quarterback leaving Vikings for Falcons in shock move

Kirk Cousins has agreed a four-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, having failed to agree a new contract with the Minnesota Vikings ahead of free agency.

The Vikings had harboured hopes of extending Cousins’ six-year stint in Minneapolis, with the four-time Pro-Bowler enjoying an excellent start to 2023 before tearing his right Achilles tendon during a Week 8 clash with the Green Bay Packers.

The Vikings had a 6-4 record through the first 10 weeks of the season, but they slumped to 7-10 and missed the playoffs in Cousins’ absence, with Josh Dobbs and Nick Mullens deputising at quarterback.

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Many expected Cousins to agree a new deal with the Vikings, who he joined after leaving the Washington Commanders in 2018, but the team announced on Monday that negotiations had ended.

In a statement released via the team’s social media channels, Vikings general manager Kwesi Odofo-Mensah said: “After significant and positive dialogue with Kirk and his representatives, we were unable to reach an agreement on a contract that fits the short and long-term visions for both Kirk and the Minnesota Vikings.

“Kirk holds a special place in Vikings history, and we appreciate his leadership and contributions to the team and the Minneapolis-St. Paul community over the past six seasons. We wish him, his wife Julie and their children all the best.

“Our approach heading into free agency always included layers of contingencies regarding the quarterback position.

“We are moving forward with plans that allow us to continue building a roster that can compete for a championship.”

Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney subsequently confirmed to ESPN that Cousins had agreed to sign a four-year contract with the Falcons on the first day of free agency.

While financial details of the deal were not immediately announced, reports suggest the 35-year-old will receive a $50million signing bonus as well as $100m in guaranteed money, $90m of which is within the next two seasons.

The Falcons had been expected to be in the market for a top-tier quarterback this offseason, having struggled to replace former NFL MVP Matt Ryan following his 2022 trade to the Indianapolis Colts.

Neither Desmond Ridder nor Taylor Heinicke convinced as Atlanta went 7-10 and missed the postseason for a sixth straight year in 2023, leading team owner Arthur Blank to promise improvements at the position when announcing the appointment of new coach Raheem Morris.

Cousins will join an Atlanta offense with plenty of pieces already in place, with the Falcons using their last three first-round draft picks on tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London and running back Bijan Robinson.

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